By: Prof. Shahul Hameed
Belief in the existence of angels is one of the fundamental articles of faith in Islam. Muslims believe that angels were created by Allah from light. Angels carry out Allah’s commandments in the nature and universe. What we usually call the “forces of nature” become active because of the presence of angels behind them, working at the Command of Allah.
Why are Angels Invisible?
It is noteworthy that angels belong to a level of existence beyond the perceptible world of phenomena, called `Alam Al-Ghayb (the Unseen world). As Allah’s creatures living within the physical world of mundane reality, we humans cannot overstep its confines; nor can we visualize beings that exist outside of it. Muslims believe in the existence of angels because Allah talks about them in His Revelations. Though angels are generally invisible beings, they may appear to the outward eye if required, in forms suitable for the visible world.
Angel in Arabic is Called Malak
additionally, the Arabic word for angel is Malak (plural mala’ikah), and its root meaning in Arabic is “messenger”. Muslims believe that the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) was the messenger through whom Allah revealed the Glorious Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He appeared to the Prophet as a person who could talk. It was the same Angel Jibreel who acted as the Prophet’s guide on the Night of Ascension or Al-Mi`raj. Although Allah may send His Revelation through the Angel Jibreel, it is important to point out that in Islam; angels are not considered intermediaries between Allah and humans in the sense that humans cannot achieve nearness to Allah except through the angels.
Angels in the Glorious Qur’an
The Glorious Qur’an also speaks of angels as playing a crucial role in processes like prophecy, spiritual life, death, resurrection and the workings of natural elements. For instance, there is an angel who brings the thunder, and he, too, obeys Allah’d Command. Other angels are in charge of embryos in wombs, or responsible for protecting human beings.
The Glorious Qur’an speaks of the charge of the angel of death in these verses:
The angel of death, who has been charged with you, will gather you; then to your Lord you will be returned. (As-Sajdah 32:11)
The Glorious Qur’an also mentions angels in connection with Heaven and Hell:
Gardens of Eden which they shall enter … and the angels shall enter unto them from every gate. (Ar-Ra`d 13:23)
Also angels record the deeds of humans as long as they are on earth:
There are over you watchers, noble writers, who know whatever you do. (Al-Infitar 82:10-12)
Over every soul there is a watcher. (At-Tariq 86:4)
Angels are also mentioned in many hadiths. For example, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have said that when people gather together in remembrance of Allah, “The angels surround them, mercy covers them, peace descends on them, and Allah remembers them among those who are with Him.” (At-Tirmidhi).
Difference between Human-being and Angel
Angels are different from human beings in that they do not have a will of their own. They were created for specific purposes, such as carrying out Allah’s Commands and conveying Allah’s Revelation to the Prophets and Messengers. Some angels are in a state of constant worship of Allah, prostrating to Him and never raising their heads.(For information
about angels in Hinduism, please, click here.)